Friday, March 27, 2009

Amphib Squadron's Deployment Includes Space Ops

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Michael Starkey, Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group Public Affairs

USS IWO JIMA, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors from Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4, embarked aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), are nearing the end of a seven-month deployment - which included integrated space operations - to the Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Operation.

Under the leadership of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) commander, Capt. Brian Smith, the PHIBRON 4 staff planned and executed the operations of six Iwo Jima ARG ships: USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS San Antonio (LPD 17), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), USS Ramage (DDG 61) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80).

"My staff effectively led the Iwo Jima ARG in executing maritime security operations and theater security cooperation in support of the Navy's maritime strategy," said Smith. "We executed a wide variety of operations with our ships and provided critical capabilities to Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet."

Managing such a large and diverse number of ships required skillful planning and execution.

"Our operations team planned, coordinated and executed all the operational matters for our ARG ships," said Lt. j.g. Benjamin Pearlswig, PHIBRON 4's operations officer. "One of our biggest successes was the flawless execution of three theater security cooperation exercises. It was great to work with our coalition partners, demonstrate our interoperability and really push towards expanding our global maritime partnerships."

In addition to managing the six ARG ships, PHIBRON 4 headed up several unique initiatives. One of the most significant involved the integration of space operations. Space operations remain a relatively new field for the Navy but are vital in providing a wide variety of warfighting capabilities.

"Our objective was to further 'operationalize' the Navy Space Campaign Plan and to develop the tactics, techniques and procedures to make space operations relevant and effective to the expeditionary warfighter," said Smith.

PHIBRON 4 was the first afloat staff to produce detailed space operations tactical guidance and to incorporate space operations into its daily operational planning cycle.

PHIBRON 4 also served as a launch area coordinator (LAC), an assignment that involves the mission planning to support the employment, if tasked, of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

PHIBRON 4 Sailors met all challenges head-on and led the Iwo Jima ARG assets through a successful and historic deployment.

"The PHIBRON 4 staff and the Iwo Jima ARG ships did an exceptional job this deployment," said Smith. "I'm extremely proud of all our accomplishments."

PHIBRON 4 is deployed as part of the Iwo Jima ARG supporting maritime security operations (MSO). MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.